Published: 10th October 2017 (Orenda Books)
A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.
The Man Who Died needs to come with a warning – once you start this book you will not want to put it down so make sure you’ve got a few free hours!
This book caught by interest by both the cover and its unique premise – it then draws you in from the get go to find out how a man of 37 years can be on the brink of death following prolonged exposure to unknown toxins. Who would want Jaakko Kaunismaa dead, how have they done it without no one noticing?! Before Jaakko succumbs to his fate, he is adamant that he is going to find out who is responsible for his (eventual) murder.
Tuomainen invites us to join in Jaakko’s investigation whereby everyone is a suspect until they are ruled out – as if death isn’t enough of a problem to deal with, a competitor suddenly sets up shop in the town with high-tech, expensive gear and attempting to poach staff and business from Jaakko.
I really liked Jaakko, he took everything in his stride and trusted his judgement in uncovering who was poisioning him – he kept his cards close to his chest. As well as the investigation, Tuomainen also shares the emtional turmoil that Jaakko is understandably goinf through by not only coming to terms with his impending death as well as the fact that someone is responsible – this really brought him to life and made him very believable as a character.
The blurb mentions ‘a nod to Fargo’ and this link is most definitely present – alongside the serious subject of murder, there are some very funny moments from some of the situations that Jaakko gets himself into as well as his little quips – the combination of crime and dark humour really work in this book.
The translation in this book is flawness, other than character and location names, there is no sign of the fact that this wasn’t originally written in English as the sentances and paragraphs flow seemlessly. I thoroughly enjoy the pace of Scandi Noir – there’s a slower pace to the narrative but addictive all the same.
The Man Who Died is a fantastic, unique thriller which is gripping start to end with a protagonist that you will be rooting for from the very start.
Highly recommended – I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to end, and was sad when the book was finished.
Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award.
The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula.